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For all those who were driven away from Beck, crying, after "Sea Change," it's time to come back to the fold. This album rocks.
For all those who left Beck, confused, after "Midnite Vultures," you can come back as well. This album is easy.
For this album, Beck partnered with the Dust Brothers (last seen on "Odelay") for beats that drive his artsy thoughts and otherwise-inaccessible-to-the-mainstream lyrics out onto the dance floor.
These songs are built from the beats up into perfect piles and then knocked down. I read in a New York Times Magazine article about Beck that one of the songs (I can only guess they are talking about "Earthquake Weather" or "Broken Drum") was built, recorded and adjusted until it was perfect. Then the Dust Brothers ran it through an Echoplex to make it sound, well, "like it had been run over by a truck."
Beck's earlier albums are more interesting to me than this one, but "Guero" seems to be this musician's attempt to heal the wounds he created by being too obscure.
The title, "Guero," refers to a nickname for "white boy" he heard often while growing up in a Latino neighborhood of East Los Angeles. You hear the chaos and mixing ethnicity of his old neighborhood combine cleanly with the computerized world he has discovered in the studio.
Rated: Every snowflake is different.
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Earlier this week, I got a press release from a publicity firm announcing the Dinosaur Jr. reunion tour. And to go along with the tour, Dinosaur Jr.'s record label would be re-releasing all of their albums.
Boy, was I excited?
That was a question. Was I excited?
Dinosaur Jr. is one of those bands that always gets lumped in with other bands that I like, (Sonic Youth and The Pixies) but I never listened to it except in the cars of friends.
This is my chance, as they say.
The mid-whatever-you-call-this-decade just may be the era of the repackage and re-release. And it's interesting to see which bands the record companies think they can squeeze a few more bucks from.
The Kinks was an obvious choice. But Dinosaur Jr.? OK, I'll bite.
After listening to a remastered copy of "Bug," which came out in 1988, I have to say their guitar-heavy, this-song-sounds-a-lot-like-the-last-one sound is not to my taste.
I have a lot of friends with great music taste who are Dino fans, so instead of trying to overanalyze an album that already went through its time of critical poking and prodding, I'll leave you with this.
Consider this less of a review and more of a news release. The members of Dinosaur Jr. have stopped feuding.
They are touring, and their first three albums are back on the shelves.
They probably won't be coming to Steamboat Springs, so you can catch them on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" on April 15.
Rated: Listen at your leisure.
Drive By Truckers
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I waddled up to the All That Jazz counter with a pile of CDs and passed them across the counter. Kevin looked at my copy of a Drive By Truckers album, cocked an eyebrow and asked, "Why did you pick this one?"
"It was the latest release," I said. And Kevin just shook his head, took me under his wing and led me back to the bin.
"This is a better choice," he said. "This is their best." And that's how I ended up back in the protective hold of my headphones listening to "Decoration Day." (Kevin also recommended "The Dirty South" by this same band.)
This album showcases some of the best elements of Southern rock.
At first, this album may just seem like a good set of songs to blast from inside your house as you sit on the porch drinking canned beer on a nice afternoon, but it deserves at least one listen through the aural microscope.
These guys are storytellers. Damn good storytellers.
Each song on "Decoration Day" is a portrait.
In "Outfit" they sing, "You want to grow up to paint houses like me, a trailer in my yard till you're 23/You want to be old after 42 years, keep dropping the hammer and grinding the gears ...
"Don't call what you're wearing an outfit/Don't ever say your car is broke/Don't worry about losing your accent, a Southern Man tells better jokes."
Rated: My boss says that all great writers come from the South. I concede for now.
-- Autumn Phillips